2019 GMC Terrain vs. 2018 Subaru Forester

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/06

For enhanced safety, the GMC Terrain’s rear seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Subaru Forester doesn’t offer comfort guides on its rear seat belts.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Terrain are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Forester doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Terrain Denali offers an optional Surround Vision to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Forester only offers a rear monitor.

Compared to metal, the Terrain’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Subaru Forester has a metal gas tank.

Both the Terrain and the Forester have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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The Terrain’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Forester’s (6 vs. 5 years).

GMC pays for the first scheduled maintenance on the Terrain. GMC will pay for the first oil change, lubrication and any other required maintenance in the first year. Subaru doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Forester.

There are almost 3 times as many GMC dealers as there are Subaru dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Terrain’s warranty.

Reliability

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To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Terrain has a standard 700-amp battery. The Forester’s 390-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that GMC vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks GMC 20th in initial quality. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 28th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that GMC vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks GMC 18th in reliability. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 24th.

Engine

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The Terrain’s standard 1.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 29 lbs.-ft. more torque (203 vs. 174) than the Forester 2.5i’s standard 2.5 SOHC 4 cyl.

The Terrain’s 1.6 turbo diesel produces 66 lbs.-ft. more torque (240 vs. 174) than the Forester 2.5i’s standard 2.5 SOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the GMC Terrain 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the Forester 2.5i 2.5 SOHC 4 cyl. (automatics tested):

 

Terrain

Forester

Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

9 sec

Quarter Mile

15.4 sec

16.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

89 MPH

83.9 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Terrain 4 cyl. diesel AWD gets better fuel mileage than the Forester 2.5i CVT with its standard engine (28 city/38 hwy vs. 26 city/32 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the Terrain AWD with its standard turbo 4 cyl. gets better fuel mileage than the Forester 2.0XT turbo 4 cyl. (24 city/28 hwy vs. 23 city/27 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Terrain’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Forester doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the GMC Terrain uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended with the 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. engine for maximum performance). The Forester 2.0XT requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Terrain has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Forester doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

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The GMC Terrain comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Forester.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Terrain’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Forester:

 

Terrain 1.5T/Diesel

Terrain 2.0T

Forester 2.5i

Forester 2.0XT

Front Rotors

11.8 inches

12.6 inches

11.6 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

11.3 inches

11.3 inches

10.8 inches

10.9 inches

The Terrain stops shorter than the Forester:

 

Terrain

Forester

 

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

136 feet

140 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Terrain’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Forester (235/50R19 vs. 225/60R17).

The Terrain’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Forester 2.5i Touring/2.0XT’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Terrain offers optional 19-inch wheels. The Forester’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

The Terrain has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Forester doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Terrain’s wheelbase is 3.4 inches longer than on the Forester (107.3 inches vs. 103.9 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Terrain is 1.4 inches wider in the front and 1.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Forester.

The Terrain Denali AWD handles at .79 G’s, while the Forester 2.5i Touring pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Terrain Denali AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.1 seconds quicker than the Forester 2.5i Touring (27.5 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 28.6 seconds @ .55 average G’s).

Chassis

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The front grille of the Terrain uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Forester doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Terrain uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Forester doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The Terrain has .5 inches more front hip room, .2 inches more front shoulder room and 1.7 inches more rear legroom than the Forester.

Cargo Capacity

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To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Terrain’s available liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Forester doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

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Maximum trailer towing in the Subaru Forester is limited to 1500 pounds. The Terrain offers up to a 3500 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

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The Terrain has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Forester doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

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The Terrain (except SL/SLE)’s optional easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Forester doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Terrain’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge – which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Forester has neither an oil pressure gauge nor a temperature gauge.

The power windows standard on both the Terrain and the Forester have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Terrain is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Forester prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Terrain’s front and rear power windows all lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Forester’s power windows’ passenger windows don’t open automatically. The Forester’s optional rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to lower them fully.

On a hot day the Terrain’s driver can lower all the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Forester can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Terrain has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Forester has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Limited/Touring/2.0XT.

The Terrain’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Heated mirrors cost extra on the Forester and aren’t offered on the Forester Base.

When the Terrain with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Forester’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the Terrain and the Forester offer available heated front seats. The Terrain Denali also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Forester.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Terrain Denali keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Forester doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The Terrain has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Forester Base doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

Both the Terrain and the Forester offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Terrain has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Forester doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The Terrain Denali’s optional Automatic Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Forester doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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The Terrain is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Forester doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

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